January Fifteenth

Tor.com. Jun. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9781250198945. $14.99. SF
This novella by Swirsky (known for Nebula- and Hugo-nominated speculative short fiction like A Memory of Wind) is set in a near-future United States where universal basic income (UBI) has become the law of the land. Swirsky chronicles the effects of UBI on the lives of four disparate women on the 10th anniversary of the policy’s implementation. For Hannah, the extra money made it possible for her and her two children to leave her abusive ex-wife. Olivia, a self-indulgent college student, parties with her equally privileged friends on what they call “Waste Day” with the determination to waste the money as fast and frivolously as possible. Sarah, 15 and pregnant, is seemingly doomed to bring her own child into the same cult she was raised in, but takes the help that the social workers at the distribution center are determined to offer. And finally, Janelle, an activist who helped bring UBI into existence, interviews people for their opinions on the money that has made it possible for her to raise her younger sister on her own.
VERDICT Swirsky’s slice-of-life UBI stories present just a few possible effects of this hotly debated topic. Without either political rhetoric or exhortation, these brief glimpses of other lives give readers the chance to see what might be in a world with a social safety net. Highly recommended for readers of political and social science–oriented SF.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing